In the courtyard of a soup kitchen on the outskirts of Cúcuta, Colombia, a 24-year-old Venezuelan woman named Maydelis says that she’s afraid to leave her young daughters alone when she goes out in search of work. She’s heard stories of children being sexually abused while their parents are out earning an income.
Written by Julia Zulver and Tara Patricia Cookson, Devex
Maydelis is one of many Venezuelan women who sell “tinto” — a kind of black coffee — on the roadside, and the money she earns barely covers the rent of a shared room. There are no child care services available to her, and if she doesn’t earn money, Maydelis and her daughters could have no other option but to sleep on the street and be exposed to additional forms of violence.
Maydelis’ dilemma is not unique. Since 2015, over 4 million people have fled Venezuela to neighboring countries, and the United Nations predicts this number to rise to 6.5 million by the end of 2020, surpassing the number of refugees from the Syrian crisis.
This week, high-level government ministers, United Nations experts, policymakers, and practitioners from around the world are gathering in Ecuador at the Global Forum on Migration and Development to work on “upholding rights, strengthening state agency, and advancing development through partnerships and collective action.”